Technology then and now: LIGNA looks back 50 years

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Technology on show in 2019. Photo: Kai Uwe Knoth, Copyright: Eingeschrnktes Nutzungsrecht

The origins of the Germany’s world renowned trade expo for the wood industry go way back – next year LIGNA will celebrate half a century and fittingly, the 50-year theme will reflect on ‘high tech and tradition’.


...and technology then. Photo: Andreas Stech Copyright: Bildquelle Deutsche Messe

As economies of scale have grown, so have the means for machining, assembling and handling. Everything from tree harvesting and processing, through to material handling, sizing, shaping, assembling and dispatching has felt the touch of digital and large-scale technology.


Photo: Andreas Stech Copyright: Bildquelle Deutsche Messe

Deutsche Messe AG, organisers of LIGNA date the events origins back to 1950, when it was the first ‘Woodworking Machinery Group Show’ at the ‘German Industrial Trade Fair in Hanover’.


LIGNA in 2007, Copyright: Deutsche-Messe

Growth can be measured in expanding descriptors such as metreage, followed by numbers of exhibitors and attendance figures. In 1950 the show covered 2,780 square metres. For example, in 1955, the area increased to 8,000 square metres, and by 1965, 22,500 square metres were already occupied.


Back when cords were a thing... Photo: Andreas Stech Copyright: Bildquelle Deutsche Messe

The organisers, Deutsche Messe, comment on the year ahead: “The general conditions for LIGNA's anniversary year 2025 are notably challenging. The industry is grappling with economic difficulties such as a decline in orders due to stagnation in the construction sector, diminishing sales, cost pressures, short-time work, a shortage of skilled workers, job cuts, and the implementation of new legal regulations for supply chains and the circular economy.

“Throughout history, LIGNA has been described as a steadfast anchor in tumultuous times, serving as an economic barometer. This resilience was evident in 1985 when, faced with a similar situation, the closing announcement included a quote that resonates with the current state of the industry: ‘Due to the innovations presented, LIGNA HANNOVER 1985 will have a lasting impact on the sales development of the timber industry in the coming weeks and months. It will become an important pillar of the domestic industry economy, currently weakened by the slowdown in demand in the construction sector.’”


Powered shaving demonstration at LIGNA 2007. Copyright: Deutsche-Messe

In the words of the organisers: “LIGNA continues to embody two key aspects shortly before its 50th anniversary: the technological innovative strength of the entire industry and a robust sense of community spirit. In tandem with the exhibiting companies, LIGNA undergoes constant evolution, navigating through crises with courage, shaping progress, and actively contributing to the future.”

In summary, LIGNA is a trade fair for the woodworking and wood processing industry and is jointly organised by Deutsche Messe and VDMA Woodworking Machinery. It showcases products and services for primary and secondary industries – tools, machines and systems for custom and mass production, surface technology, wood-based panel production, sawmill technology, energy from wood, machine components and automation technology, as well as machines and systems for forestry technology.

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Images courtesy Deutsche Messe

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